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Blog Entries from May 2010

NOAA Expects Busy Atlantic Hurricane Season

Satellite photo of Hurricane Ike, 2008An "active to extremely active" hurricane season is expected for the Atlantic Basin this year according to the seasonal outlook issued today by NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center – a division of the National Weather Service. As with every hurricane season, this outlook underscores the importance of having a hurricane preparedness plan in place.

Across the entire Atlantic Basin for the six-month season, which begins June 1, NOAA is projecting a 70 percent probability of the following ranges:


  • 14 to 23 Named Storms (top winds of 39 mph or higher), including:
  • 8 to 14 Hurricanes (top winds of 74 mph or higher), of which:
  • 3 to 7 could be Major Hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of at least 111 mph)

"If this outlook holds true, this season could be one of the more active on record," said Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “The greater likelihood of storms brings an increased risk of a landfall. In short, we urge everyone to be prepared.”

Full NOAA release
Hurricane Preparedness Week site

Locke Wraps Up Clean Energy Trade Mission

Secretary Locke and government officials at table

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke wrapped up the final day of his clean energy trade mission in Jakarta, Indonesia Wednesday. While in Jakarta, Locke and representatives from 10 U.S. clean energy companies participated in several group meetings about clean energy with Indonesian officials and business representatives and received updates on the market from local executives working in the energy field. At the University of Indonesia, Locke participated in a discussion with students highlighting the importance of innovation in creating new clean energy technologies. He also addressed the American Chamber of Commerce in Indonesia and visited the Port of Jakarta to witness the signing of an ocean exploration agreement.

“This effort is not limited to one country; both Indonesia and the United States can benefit from cooperating on clean energy development,” Locke said during his town hall meeting with students. “The United States, Indonesia and the entire world are counting on bright, motivated people like all of you to discover the new clean energy technologies that could help put millions of our people to work in high-skill, high-wage jobs.”

Locke has been leading the administration’s first Cabinet-level trade mission over the past week and a half, traveling to Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing, China before his final stop in Jakarta. The mission had a goal of advancing President Obama’s National Export Initiative, which aims to double U.S. exports within five years to support two million American jobs.

Overall, Locke was joined by a business delegation of 46 executives from 29 U.S. companies on the mission, along with representatives from the U.S. Trade Development Agency (TDA), the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) and the Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM).

Press release

NOAA’s Oil Spill Response in the Gulf of Mexico

NOAA and White House officials examine fish samples taken from spill area

As the nation’s leading scientific resource for oil spills, the Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has been on the scene of the BP spill from the start, providing coordinated scientific weather and biological response services to federal, state and local organizations.

NOAA has mobilized experts from across the agency to help contain the spreading oil spill and protect the Gulf of Mexico’s many marine mammals, sea turtles, fish, shellfish and other endangered marine life.

NOAA spill specialists are advising the U.S. Coast Guard on cleanup options as well as advising all affected federal, state and local partners on sensitive marine resources at risk in this area of the Gulf of Mexico. Additionally:

  • NOAA is predicting the oil spill’s trajectory and the path of the layers of oil floating on the surface. OR&R experts are conducting aerial surveys to update trajectory maps and visually track the movement of the spill.
  • NOAA’s National Weather Service is providing regular weather forecasts to a joint federal command center in Louisiana to facilitate operations planning and response efforts.
  • Experienced marine mammal spotters from NOAA’s Southeast Fisheries Science Center are participating in surveillance flights flown by the Office of Marine and Aviation Operations to assess the species and populations that may come in contact with the spill.
  • NOAA also is using experimental satellite data from our Satellite Analysis Branch to survey the extent of spill-related marine pollution.

As a major partner in the federal response to this evolving incident, NOAA will continue to provide the necessary coastal and marine expertise required for sound, timely decision-making and help protect the affected Gulf Coast communities and coastal marine environment.

Latest News

Secretary Locke Underscores U.S.-Indonesia Partnership, Highlights Value to Economic and Environmental Health

Locke witnesses signing of first-ever Indonesia-U.S. Ocean Exploration Partnership MOUU.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke underscored shared U.S.-Indonesia economic and environmental commitments at an event today at Muara Baru, a commercial fishing port in North Jakarta. Locke addressed joint efforts to prevent illegal and unregulated fishing and witnessed the signing of the first-ever U.S.-Indonesia ocean exploration agreement. He was joined by Indonesia’s Coordinating Minister for People's Welfare Agung Laksono, Research and Technology Minister Suharna Surapranata, Secretary for People's Welfare Indroyono Soesilo, and Dr. Gellwynn Jusuf, Director General for Research, Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries.

Read more

Secretary Locke Announces Fishery Failure Determination in Gulf of Mexico

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke today determined there has been a fishery disaster in the Gulf of Mexico due to the economic impact on commercial and recreational fisheries from the ongoing Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The affected area includes the states of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

“We are taking this action today because of the potentially significant economic hardship this spill may cause fishermen and the businesses and communities that depend on those fisheries,” Locke said. “The disaster determination will help ensure that the Federal government is in a position to mobilize the full range of assistance that fishermen and fishing communities may need.”

Locke made the determination under Section 312(a) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act.  The declaration was made in response to requests from Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour based on the loss of access to many commercial fisheries and the existing and anticipated environmental damage from this unprecedented event.

Since May 2, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has closed a portion of federal waters affected by the spill to commercial and recreational fishing. This closure area, which is based on the scientific trajectory of the spill, now includes nearly 20 percent of federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico, largely between Louisiana state waters at the mouth of the Mississippi and the waters off Florida’s Pensacola Bay.

Full release
Related NOAA release

Latest NOAA status release on oil spill

Secretary Locke Completes Clean Energy Trade Mission to China

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke addresses students and scientists at China’s prestigious Tsinghua University.Secretary Locke wrapped up his China clean energy trade mission – the first Cabinet-level trade mission of the Obama administration –  Friday in Beijing. Over the last week, Locke visited Hong Kong and Shanghai and will continue on to Jakarta, Indonesia on Tuesday after participating in the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue.

Throughout the mission Locke focused on opportunities for U.S.-China collaboration in the clean energy market and the special responsibility the two countries have to lead the way in combating global climate change. 

At his last stop in Beijing, Locke engaged in a first-of-its-kind dialogue and live webchat with Tsinghua University students and scientists who are working on cutting-edge, clean-energy technologies. Locke told the students that the United States, China and the entire world are counting on bright, motivated people to discover new energy technologies to reach energy efficiency goals while creating jobs in China and the United States.

He also visited the United Family Hospital New Hope Cancer Treatment Center, a joint U.S.-China venture featuring nearly $6 million worth of U.S. exports of medical technology.

In China, Locke traveled with representatives of 24 U.S. businesses. Ten executives will be continuing on with him to Jakarta, Indonesia, along with representatives from the Trade Development Agency (TDA), Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) and the Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM).

The clean energy trade mission comes on the heels of President Obama’s call to double U.S. exports in the next five years and support 2 million American jobs.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke engages in a dialogue with 
students at Tsinghua University  working on , clean-energy tech

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke engages in a dialogue with students and scientists working on cutting-edge, clean-energy technologies at China’s prestigious Tsinghua University.  The dialogue featured live questions from Chinese “netizens,” and a transcript of the event was streamed live on the Global Times Web site and later re-posted on

NOAA: Ocean Stored Significant Warming Over Last 16 Years

The upper layer of the world’s ocean has warmed since 1993, indicating a strong climate change signal, according to a new study. The energy stored is enough to power nearly 500 100-watt light bulbs per each of the roughly 6.7 billion people on the planet.

“We are seeing the global ocean store more heatOcean waves breaking over rocks than it gives off,” said John Lyman, an oceanographer at NOAA’s Joint Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research, who led an international team of scientists that analyzed nine different estimates of heat content in the upper ocean from 1993 to 2008.

The team combined the estimates to assess the size and certainty of growing heat storage in the ocean. Their findings will be published in the May 20 edition of the journal Nature. The scientists are from NOAA, NASA, the Met Office Hadley Centre in the United Kingdom, the University of Hamburg in Germany and the Meteorological Research Institute in Japan.

The team combined the estimates to assess the size and certainty of growing heat storage in the ocean. Their findings will be published in the May 20 edition of the journal Nature. The scientists are from NOAA, NASA, the Met Office Hadley Centre in the United Kingdom, the University of Hamburg in Germany and the Meteorological Research Institute in Japan.  

Read the full story here.

Commerce's USPTO Co-Sponsored Collegiate Inventors Seeking Inventive Entries from Students

Harris Wang, Harvard Medical School; Arti Rai, USPTO Administrator for External Affairs; Stephen Diebold University of Illinois

The Invent Now Collegiate Inventors Competition, now in its 19th year, is inviting inventive students to enter its 2010 competition.

The Collegiate Inventors Competition is designed to recognize and honor student innovators at the graduate and undergraduate levels.  Since 1990, the Competition has honored numerous individuals and teams for their outstanding inventive contributions and innovative research.  This year, nearly $80,000 in cash prizes will be awarded to the winning undergraduate and graduate students and advisors at a special awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. in the fall.    The Competition is sponsored by the United States Patent and Trademark Office and the Abbott Fund.

The deadline for entering this year’s Competition is June 25, 2010.   Entries are judged on originality of the idea, process or technology, and their potential value and usefulness to society.

Read more here.

Locke Launches Clean Energy Trade Mission in Hong Kong

 Secretary Locke answers questions at launch even for the Clean Energy Trade MissionOver the weekend, Secretary Locke arrived in Hong Kong and kicked off the first cabinet-level trade mission of the Obama administration.  The Clean Energy Mission, which will eventually make stops in Shanghai, Beijing, China and Jakarta, Indonesia is focused on promoting the export of technologies and services related to clean energy, energy efficiency and electric energy storage, transmission and distribution. 

Planned just months after the President announced his National Export Initiative, Locke will attempt to advance the president's goal of doubling U.S. exports within five years to support jobs.

In addition to meeting with government officials and businesses himself, Locke will also introduce the 24 U.S. business executives who are joining him on the China portion of the trip to potential Chinese partners who can help them in their efforts to win contracts for building wind turbines and other green technology projects.  As the Secretary mentioned in a speech following his arrival:

"The companies on this trade mission can help create economic opportunity and good jobs back in America, while helping Hong Kong and China grow their own economies and meet energy demand in a way that won’t put the planet and our entire way of life at risk... This trade mission is truly a win-win for American companies and their workers and for the people of Hong Kong and China."

During his first full day of the mission, in addition to a number of high-level meetings with government and business leaders, Locke visited the green Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel, took a look at a number of innovations in green transportation, toured the Hong Kong Science and Technology Park and signed an agreement that will make it easier for American vintners to export U.S. wines to Hong Kong and Asia.

Read more to see more pictures of today's events.

Statement from Commerce Secretary Gary Locke on Retail Sales in April 2010

Commerce's U.S. Census Bureau today released retail sales for April 2010.  Retail sales increased 0.4 percent, following a large 2.1‑percent rise in March.  Sales of building materials and garden equipment and supplies jumped 6.9 percent following a similarly large gain in March.  Private-sector analysts had expected a small decline of 0.1 percent in total sales in April.

“The rising trend in retail sales indicates that consumer spending continues to grow, underlining increasing confidence in the recovery,” U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said.  “The gains in consumer spending are yet another indication that the outlook for sustained economic growth is improving.”


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Secretary Locke Honors U.S. Companies with Highest Presidential Award for Exports

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke today presented 22 companies and organizations with the 2010 Presidential “E” Award and “E” Star Award for outstanding contributions to growing U.S. exports, strengthening the economy and creating American jobs. The Presidential “E” Awards are the highest U.S. government honor for increasing exports.

These are the first “E” and “E” Star Awards given out since President Obama announced the National Export Initiative, which aims to double American exports and support two million U.S. jobs by 2015.

Two recipients flanked by Locke and Under Secretary Sanchez

“Today we honor companies that are selling high-quality products and services in every corner of the world, and most importantly, helping to create good jobs for American workers,” Locke said. “This administration is focused on helping American businesses, like the ones honored today, take advantage of the worldwide economic recovery and sell more abroad.”

The Presidential “E” Award was created by President John F. Kennedy in 1961 to recognize persons, firms or organizations that contribute significantly to increasing U.S. exports. The “E Star” Award, meanwhile, recognizes continued superior performance in increasing or promoting exports. (Remarks) (Release)

Secretary Locke Briefs Washington Foreign Press Center on Upcoming Trade Mission to China and Indonesia

Commerce sealU.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke led a briefing at the Washington Foreign Press Center on the Obama administration’s first Cabinet-level trade mission to China and Indonesia next week. The clean energy business development missions will promote exports of leading U.S. technologies related to clean energy, energy efficiency and electric energy storage, transmission and distribution. In his remarks, Locke said, “Here at home, every American should know that when a U.S. clean energy company finds success abroad, it creates more jobs in the United States." (Remarks)

Secretary's Statement on March U.S. International Trade in Goods and Services

The Commerce Department’s U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis today released a report on March 2010 U.S. International Trade in Goods and Services. Today’s report showed that U.S. exports in March 2010 increased by 3.2 percent to $147.9 billion from their February 2010 level. Imports in March increased 3.1 percent over February to $188.3 billion.

“The rise in imports shows increasing consumer confidence in America's economic recovery,” Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said. “It's heartening to see a corresponding increase in exports.

“This administration is focused on helping American businesses take advantage of the worldwide recovery underway, ramping up trade advocacy on all fronts – from providing credit to small businesses that want to export to increasing the number of trade experts who will help U.S. companies find buyers abroad to the continued rigorous enforcement of our trade laws.” (Full statement)

Senior Adviser Wade Meets with Business Leaders in Pennsylvania


Wade touring manufacturing facilityRick Wade, senior adviser and Deputy Chief of Staff to U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, met with local businesses in Williamsport, Penn., today as part of a national tour taking him to Main Streets across America to hear from business leaders about the challenges they face and to take their ideas and concerns back to Washington. Wade participated in a roundtable discussion, a luncheon, and toured a local manufacturing facility.

Secretary Locke Holds Exports Town Hall with Northern Virginia Businesses

Image of ITA Exports reportU.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke visited the Precision Auto Care international corporate headquarters training facility in Leesburg, Va., to discuss President Obama’s National Export Initiative (NEI) and how it can help U.S. companies of all sizes sell more of their goods and services overseas and support the creation of American jobs. Locke was joined by U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf. The NEI aims to double U.S. exports over the next five years while supporting two million American jobs.

Secretaries Locke and Donovan Tour Nashville, Memphis Flood-Damaged Areas

Locke with residentsAt the request of President Barack Obama, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan toured areas affected by the recent flooding in Nashville and Memphis, Tenn., today. The secretaries assessed the damage, talked to residents and discussed long-term recovery plans with local elected officials and community leaders. The secretaries toured the impacted areas and held brief press availabilities in each city.

NOAA: Above-Normal Temperatures and Below-Normal Precipitation in April

Graphic of temperature mapNOAA's State of the Climate report shows the April 2010 average temperature for the contiguous United States was 54.3 degress F, which is 2.3 degrees F above the long-term (1901-2000) average (14th-warmest April on record). April's average precipitation was 2.18 inches, 0.25 inch below the 1901-2000 average, based on a 116-year record since 1895, this monthly analysis is prepared by scientists at NOAA's National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. (Release) (Temperature graphic) (Precipitation graphic)

2010 Census Advertising Named Multicultural and Best Branded Campaign of the Year

The U.S. Census Bureau is being recognized by Mediaweek, a leading advertising industry trade publication, for its 2010 Census advertising campaign—winning both the “Best Multicultural Campaign” and “Best Branded Content” awards in the publication’s Media Plan of the Year competition. The primary purpose of the advertising efforts were to educate and motivate households to mail back their 2010 Census forms when they arrived in March—more than 72 percent of America participated by mail, matching the rate from the last census in 2000. (Release)

Secretary Locke, Secretary Napolitano and Administrator Lubchenco Visit Gulf Coast

Trajectory mapAt the direction of President Obama, Department of Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco visited the Gulf Coast to meet with federal, state and local officials, and local business leaders as part of their continued oversight of BP’s efforts to plug the leak and contain the spill, and their ongoing emphasis on interagency coordination in response to the event. All three officials traveled to Biloxi, Miss. Locke and Napolitano continued on to Pensacola, Fla., in the afternoon. (NOAA-Deepwater) (Current trajectory map—PDF) (Incident News)

NOAA: Deepwater Horizon Incident, Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Update

Photo of Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill from NASA Satellite

Improving weather today allowed both NOAA overflights and dispersant operations to resume. Today, four aircraft applied dispersants to the surface slick, and dispersant application by vessels is expected to begin tomorrow. Monitoring of the dispersant efforts are ongoing. NOAA overflights were conducted over the source as well as south from Mobile. At present, technical specialists and other personnel from many agencies and organizations are assisting NOAA in providing scientific support for the spill response. (Incident News)

Report on Gross Domestic Product Statistics for Four U.S. Territories Released

Click for larger image. Pictured: Nikolao Pula, Director of the Office of Insular Affairs, U.S. Department of the Interior; Kiran Ahuja, Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders; Pictured: Rebecca M Blank, Under Secretary for Economic Affairs, U.S. Department of Commerce;  Rep. Gregorio Kilili Camacho, Northern Mariana Islands; Rep. Madeleine Bordallo, Guam; Rep. Eni Faleomavaega, America Samoa; Rep. Donna Christensen, Virgin Islands; Steve Landefeld, Director of the Bureau of Economic Analysis, U.S. Department of Commerce.

The U.S. Department of Commerce released newly-developed Gross Domestic Product (GDP) statistics for American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The statistics are a product of a joint effort of the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis and the Interior Department’s Office of Insular Affairs. Policy makers will now have an objective view of the size of these economies, their growth or contraction, and their major components in order to conduct economic-impact analysis on the effects of local and national policy decisions. (More)

Secretary Locke Joins HHS Secretary Sebelius for Web Chat on New Benefits in Affordable Care Act

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke joined Health and Human Services Secretary Kathlee

Image: HHS Web chat

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke joined Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius for a live Web chat today on a new reinsurance program that will help U.S. firms cover the health care costs of their early retirees. The program makes available $5 billion of financial assistance to businesses, state and local governments and unions to help them cover health care costs for those 55 and older not yet eligible for Medicare. The Web chat is available on-demand here. For more information, visit ( en español) (White House health care Web site) (Fact sheet) (DOC May 4 release) (Secretary Sebelius May 4 release)

Secretary Locke Statement on New Affordable Care Act Reinsurance Program's Benefits for Employers

Comerce seal

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued regulations establishing the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program in the Affordable Care Act. The new law provides $5 billion in financial assistance to employers to help them maintain coverage for early retirees age 55 and older who are not yet eligible for Medicare. Employers can use the savings to either reduce their own health care costs, provide premium relief to their workers and families, or a combination of both. (More) (White House blog) (Fact sheet)

Forty-Six U.S. Business Executives to Join Secretary Locke in China and Indonesia for Clean Energy Trade Mission

Foto de El Seretario Gary Locke.

Washington (May 4 )—Forty-six U.S. business executives will join U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke in China and Indonesia May 15-25 on the first cabinet-level trade mission of the Obama administration. On the heels of President Obama’s new National Export Initiative, aimed at doubling U.S. exports in the next five years, Locke will lead American companies on this clean energy mission to advance their export opportunities and support American jobs. (More)

Secretary Locke to Host White House Asian American and Pacific Islander Web Chat

Secretary Locke, AAPI Executive Director Kiran Ahuja and White House aide with laptop computer. Click for larger image. (Courtesy of the White House)

Image: White House video

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke hosted a live Web chat today to discuss important issues affecting the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. Locke is co-chair of The White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and was joined by Executive Director Kiran Ahuja for the Web chat. President Barack Obama proclaimed May 2010, as Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. The video will be available on (Presidential proclamation)

Commerce Department Recruiting Industry Experts to Serve on New Advisory Council on Minority Business

Comerce seal

The Commerce Department is recruiting leaders from the private sector to serve on the National Advisory Council on Minority Business Enterprise (NACMBE). The council will provide advice and guidance to the Secretary on key issues, including policies that would best position minority-owned firms to compete in the global economy: access to capital, expanded participation in emerging industries, and improved access to the global supply chains of the world’s largest corporations. Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) will assist the Secretary in overseeing the Advisory Council. (More) (Nomination notice)

Secretary Locke Highlights Importance of Tourism to U.S. Economy

Secretary Locke meets with press in Orlando to discuss travel and tourism.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke held a town hall meeting at the University of Central Florida today to discuss the importance of the travel and tourism industry to the U.S. economy. The industry generates nearly $1.3 trillion for the U.S. economy and supports 8.2 million U.S. jobs. Locke also highlighted President Obama’s new Task Force on Space Industry Workforce and Economic Development, a $40 million effort to facilitate economic development along the Space Coast. Locke was joined by U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and U.S. Reps. Suzanne Kosmas and Alan Grayson. (More) (Remarks)

Statement from Under Secretary Blank on March 2010 Personal Income and Outlays

Blank portrait.

Washington (May 3)—The U.S. Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis released personal income and outlays data for March 2010. Personal income increased 0.3 percent in March, and real disposable personal income rose 0.2 percent. Real personal consumption expenditures increased 0.5 percent in March. “Today’s personal income data, particularly the growth in employee compensation, indicates that the recovery is taking hold across America,” said U.S. Commerce Department Under Secretary for Economic Affairs Rebecca Blank.” (More) (Release—PDF)

EDA Announces Competition to Bring Innovative Ideas to Market

The i6 Challenge Logo

The i6 Challenge is a new $12 million innovation competition administered by the Economic Development Administration (EDA) of the U.S. Department of Commerce, in partnership with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and National Science Foundation (NSF). EDA will award up to $1 million to each of six winning teams with the most innovative ideas to drive technology commercialization and entrepreneurship in their regions. NIH and NSF will award a total of up to $6 million in supplemental funding to their SBIR grantees that are associated or partnered with the winning teams. (More) (Press release—PDF)